In a talk at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, Ted Cruz argued in favor of his plan—along with fellow Sens. Mike Lee and Marco Rubio and other tea-party members—to use the continuing resolution debate at the end of September to defund Obama's health care law, emphasizing the importance of grassroots efforts to win the fight.
Cruz, the Republican senator from Texas, presented the plan as the last and only chance to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. "If we don't do it now, in all likelihood we never will," Cruz said. "In modern times no major entitlement, once it was implemented, has ever been unwound." Once the exchanges and subsidies are in place next year, Cruz argued, the administration will likely have already succeeded in getting as many Americans as they can "addicted to the subsidies, addicted to the sugar," thereby drastically diminishing prospects for full repeal.
Cruz's plan risks a government shutdown unless Obama agrees to defund his signature legislation, a virtual impossibility. Yet Cruz emphasized the necessity of dramatic action and slammed Republicans in the House for their continued "empty symbolic votes with no chance of passing." The House is scheduled to vote for the 40th time this week to repeal Obamacare.
In order to convince the necessary 41 Republicans in the Senate or 218 in the House to support his plan, Cruz emphasized the need for "unprecedented levels" of grassroots efforts. He called upon individuals to join the fight and pressure their representatives to join in refusing to fund the law.
Cruz responded to Republicans' concerns that another government shutdown would harm the party and damage 2014 election chances, calling them "haunted by the ghost of shutdowns past." Although conventional wisdom is that Republicans were to blame for the 1995 shutdown, Cruz argued that government shutdowns are far from disastrous. "The world didn't end; planes didn't fall out of the sky, Social Security checks didn't stop, military paychecks didn't stop, we didn't default on our national debt." While saying he certainly didn't want shutdowns to continue indefinitely, Cruz emphasized the temporary nature of shutdowns and argued that it was important for Republicans to stand up for their principles.
Winding down his talk, Cruz's rhetoric became a kind of inspirational battle cry. He quoted Margaret Thatcher ("First you win the argument, then you win the fight"), and asked, "If we're not willing to fight on Obamacare, what are we willing to fight on?" Appealing to his audience of bloggers, he said they would be the ones to win it. "New media is a terrific destabilizing force," and a crucial element of the grassroots battle to defund the health care law, he said.
Cruz ended with a message to Republicans who do not like his approach: "What is your alternative?" It's a question that, ironically, many have posed to the GOP with regard to Obamacare.